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Ivan Homola Saturday, January 28, 2023

CVE vs. CWE Vulnerability: What's The Difference?



Ivan Homola, Author

Indie maker with a passion for SEO working on web projects. Ex-mobile dev-agency owner. Now, helping early stage founders turn their side projects into businesses.

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Learning about the standards and causes of security weakness is necessary when identifying and classifying software vulnerabilities.

This guide will teach you about CVE vs. CWE with examples and importance.

Difference between CVE and CWE

Utilizing CVE and CWE in software development aids in strengthening the security and solidity of systems and defending against possible security vulnerabilities.

While both standards play a critical role in secure software development, they have different purposes.

In summary, CVE is a standard for identifying and naming specific vulnerabilities, while CWE is a standard for classifying and describing the types of weaknesses that can lead to vulnerabilities.

Let's explore both a little bit more below.

What is CVE?

CVE explanation

CVE, or Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures, is a publicly released list of known computer security threats. A catalog of vulnerabilities in software products provides a reference point to identify and manage potential risks.

Importance of CVE

Using CVE, software developers and security teams can recognize and track vulnerabilities in a consistent, standardized way.

It allows them to quickly reference a vulnerability in security advisories, patches, and other communications.

It ultimately helps to improve the speed and effectiveness of vulnerability management and mitigation, making it easier to protect systems and data from potential attacks.

CVE Example

A software developer finds a security hole in their program that allows intruders to access protected data without permission.

They tell the right people about it and obtain a special CVE ID, like "CVE-2021-12345". This vulnerability is listed on the CVE List and can be used to track and refer to it in security bulletins, updates, and other messages.

What is CWE?

CWE explanation

CWE, or Common Weakness Enumeration, is a collection of standardized names and descriptions for common software weaknesses.

It categorizes weaknesses based on their type and scope, providing a framework for discussing and addressing software security threats. CWE also includes mappings to other vulnerability databases, such as CVE.

CVEs refer to the actual vulnerabilities, while CWEs refer to the underlying weaknesses that can lead to those vulnerabilities.

Importance of CWE

By taking advantage of CWE, software engineers and security personnel can categorize and comprehend the type of software flaws.

It permits them to prioritize and tackle the most imperative vulnerabilities.

It also provides a common language for discussing and describing software weaknesses, which helps to improve communication and collaboration between different teams and organizations.

CWE Example

A security analyst is analyzing the source code of a program and finds that it is using a weak encryption protocol that an intruder could easily break.

They assign a CWE label to the issue, such as "CWE-327: Use of a Broken or Risky Cryptographic Algorithm". This labeling offers a shared terminology for characterizing the vulnerability and enables others to comprehend the extent of the hazard and its potential consequences.

You can see the complete list of CWE labels and specifications on the MITRE website.

For reference, the label for CWE-79 is (Improper Neutralization of Input During Web Page Generation ('Cross-site Scripting')).

Who designed CVE and CWE?

MITRE Corporation designed the CVE and CWE programs in response to the lack of a consistent and uniform way for recognizing and monitoring cyber security vulnerabilities.

It provides a comprehensive database of common vulnerabilities and exposures (CVEs) to provide information on potential risks and inform organizations on how to secure their systems more efficiently.

The database includes descriptions of security flaws, vulnerability identifiers, affected software versions, impact evaluations, and remediation steps. It allows organizations to track their exposures, assess risk levels, and take action against them.

By creating such a system, MITRE has enabled organizations to have better visibility into the threats from malicious actors when managing security issues.

How can developers use CVE and CWE?

Below are the ways to utilize CVE and CWE in your software development practices as a developer.

CVE and CWE as developer

Identify and patch vulnerabilities

Developers can use the CVE List to check if their software has any known vulnerabilities and obtain information about patching them.

For example, you could refer to the CVE List to identify their program's security issue with the label "CVE-2021-1234" and use the data provided to fix the problem and deploy an upgrade for their application.

Prioritize vulnerabilities

Developers can use CWE to classify the type of vulnerability and its potential impact to prioritize which vulnerabilities to address first.

For example, you might use CWE to classify a vulnerability as "CWE-79: Improper Neutralization of Input During Web Page Generation ('Cross-site Scripting')"

And then, you can address this high-severity vulnerability that allows an intruder to inject malicious code into a web page on a priority basis.

Improve code quality

Developers can use CWE to identify and address common weaknesses in their code.

For example, you might use CWE to identify your code's vulnerability to "CWE-835: Loop with Unreachable Exit Condition ('Infinite Loop')" and address the issue by ensuring the loop has a clear exit condition.

Integration with security tools

Developers can integrate their software with security tools that use CVE and CWE to identify and report vulnerabilities automatically.

For example, you can use a static analysis tool that scans your source code and generates a report that includes any identified CWEs.

Code Analysis rules

A code analyzer uses these rules to catch source code errors, bugs, and security vulnerabilities.

These are also known as static code analysis rules because you can apply them without running the code.

Common practices include detecting syntax errors, checking for coding standards, and flagging potential security issues.

Codiga has code analysis rules for specific CVE and CWE. You can look into that in the rulesets library.

Expand the search to see the inputs to place the IDs.

Codiga rulesets library

For example, in python-security, there are CWE-(295, 502, 337, 78, 1088) and CVE-(757).

Not only that, but you will also see OWASP 10.

Python security rulesets

This ruleset examines Python code and finds vulnerabilities such as:

  • Use of poor encryption and hashing protocols
  • Security misconfiguration
  • Hardcoded credentials
  • Shell injection
  • Unsafe deserialization
  • Lack of access management
  • SQL injections

Quick Tip: Learn the best static code testing practices to avoid bugs and application security issues.


You must have realized that vulnerabilities come in various forms and can be classified based on severity.

Common breaches like insecure software configuration or lack of patching can be mitigated by following security best practices.

However, the fact remains that vulnerabilities exist, and there is no way to avoid them completely.

How quickly an organization or developer responds to susceptibilities and how quickly they can mitigate them matters.

If you are looking to automate the process of finding the security flaws in your software, then I recommend using the static analysis tool of Codiga.

It will help you to figure out the common security threats, including CWE top 25 and OWASP inside your application.


What is CVSS?

CVSS is the short form of Common Vulnerability Scoring System, a standardized scoring system used to assess and compare the severity of security vulnerabilities.

It provides an objective, quantitative measure of the potential impact of a vulnerability by assigning numerical scores based on different metrics.

The CVSS score helps security professionals prioritize their vulnerability remediation efforts.

It is widely used in the cybersecurity industry and is often used as a reference point by organizations when making decisions about patching or mitigating vulnerabilities.

What is the meaning of CWE Top 25?

The CWE Top 25 is a collection of the most dangerous and widespread software security weaknesses like SQL injections, CRF, Integer Overflow, Missing authorization, Memory Buffer, etc.

You can use it as a base for many security standards.

The CWE Top 25 provides a detailed overview of common programming errors that can lead to serious security issues.

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